The British Journal of Psychiatry
Women who kill their parents.
P T d'Orb√°n, A O'Connor


The literature on parricide is reviewed with special reference to women. Seventeen female parricides (14 matricides, 3 patricides) were identified: in a remand prison (11), a Special Hospital (5), and a Regional Secure Unit (1). Six were schizophrenic, five had psychotic depression, three had personality disorders, and one was alcoholic. Two of the patricides had no psychiatric disorder but retaliated against violent fathers. Regardless of psychiatric diagnosis, matricides were mostly single, socially isolated women in mid-life, living alone with a domineering mother in a mutually dependent but hostile relationship. Similar characteristics are found in male matricides, who are predominantly schizophrenic. It is suggested that these features are of greater significance in matricide than the specific form of psychiatric disorder. Compared with filicides, matricides were significantly older, were single, and more often suffered from mental illness and substance abuse. Attention is drawn to the possible homicidal risk associated with delusions of poisoning and hypochondriacal delusions.